It's A Multi-Year Process.
TVMN Director-at-Large Some of you may be spending your winter hours not only dreaming of getting back on the trails with your ATV, but also building a new ATV Trail or new Connector Trail to reach an existing system.
To move from idea to action, find out who to talk with in order to put things in motion and turn that trail vision into reality. Realistically, you are embarking on a 3 to 10 year effort, depending on the complexity, length, and support you receive for your idea. You will need patience, perseverance, positivity and motivation to keep your trail vision moving. Be prepared for challenges. Be ready for changes to your plan, and work toward it to gain the most important requirement: strong public support.
Step 1: Reach out to your ATVMN Regional Directors. They will contact ATVMN President Ron Potter or me, as Director-at-Large. You will be asked about your local support for the trail idea. Is your club supportive? Is your community supportive? Do you have a local government unit (LGU: township, city, county) that will act as your trail sponsor? ATVMN will be interested in how it fits into the state-wide Master Plan, what type of trail it is, (natural surface, right-of-way, railroad grade), and does it make trail connections to other trails and trail amenities such as gas, food and lodging. We want to make your trail project a success, help as needed, and support it with on-going meetings with Minnesota DNR leadership, the public and member communications.
Step 2: Enter the Minnesota Trail Assistance Program (Grant-In-Aid). GIA helps partially fund the construction of the trail, but also helps with maintenance grants in the future. Yes, the word partially means you will need to find other grants, donations or fundraisers to help pay for your portion of trail expenses. The GIA program is a 7-step process that leads you from trail initiation to maintenance. Entering GIA will require a partnership with the DNR. It’s divided into four Regions, with the same geographic boundaries as ATVMN Regions: Northwest, Northeast, Central and South. The four DNR Regions are divided into 10 Districts, and further divided into 15 Administrative Areas. As with most organizations, DNR personnel are changing all the time, so it is difficult as a club person to know who to contact. Click here to see the current contacts for DNR Regions, Districts, and Areas, along with a map to determine which area your club or trail is in. Depending on the Area Supervisor on that list, you may be assigned a DNR Acquisition & Development (A&D) specialist who will help you navigate and inform you on next steps of the GIA process. The ATV Dedicated Account helps fund four of these positions, one each for the four DNR Regions.
Contact Your ATVMN Regional Director. The development of a trail is a partnership between the ATV club, Minnesota DNR, and your LGU. Much like a 3-legged stool, if one of the legs is missing, trail progress will fail. To get started, contact one of your ATVMN Regional Directors, listed at atvam.org. ATVMN can help you build a strong 3-legged stool to reach your trail goal, and help ATVMN reach its vision for a state-wide trail network. (ATV clubs: Drag the below table to your computer screen to enlarge and save it for club use.)